merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

Merritt White, owner of Re:Cycles Bike Shop in Greensboro, NC, has been ripping the downhill courses throughout the south and mid-Atlantic for years, and regularly posts pics of big air and sick jumps from his local secret trails (that he still won’t tell us where they are!). Now, he’s built up a fully tricked out DH bike upon which to shred, the highlight of which is a conversion of Shimano’s XTR Di2 group to a short cage derailleur more suited to the tight gearing used for gravity runs…

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

The project starts with a 2016 Banshee Legend, a frame that was updated for the 2015 model year but kept its 26″ wheels and now, finally for 2016, makes the jump to 27.5″ hoops. Along with the wheel size change came geometry tweaks to optimize performance for the new tire diameter, reduce anti-squat and maintain a more consistent chainstay length throughout the suspension’s movement.

Banshee also stretched the medium and large frames even longer, deleted the small size from their catalog and added a proper XL for tall riders. The head angle slackened to 63º, the BB dropped another 2mm and rear tire clearance grew despite having to make room for the larger wheel size. Add to all that a stiffer frame, more travel (205mm) and lower center of gravity and the 2016 Banshee Legend looked like just the right platform on which to blow the budget with a chichi parts spec and custom drivetrain.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

Up front, he’s running a Renthal Fat Bar and direct mount stem, ODI Disisdaboss lock-on grips and a Hopey steering damper. Brake levers are Hope v4 with braided hoses, which are mounted far inboard. Even further from the grip is the single shifter, a standard XTR Di2 two-paddle unit.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

The Hopey Steering Damper allows for uninhibited slow speed turning and puts no damping on the return-to-center movement. Where it helps control things is on high speed hits that would otherwise try to throw your wheel off center and out of control.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

The Di2 wire is taped under the bar before getting an extremely clean (and color coordinated) zip tie run alongside the brake hose.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

The junction box is hidden inside the linkage…

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

…and as the wire exits the other side to go to the rear derailleur, it gets covered in a PET expandable braided sleeve to protect it from abrasions.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

The battery is stuffed into the seat tube from the bottom.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

The wire is secured along the frame at the usual points and then again on the B-link.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

The Shimano XTR Di2 group was designed around their 11-40 (and larger) wide range cassettes. To make it work with the Shimano Ultegra CS-6800 11-32 road cassette used here, it needed a shorter cage. So, White pulled one off an 820-series Saint derailleur and swapped them out.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

The rest of the drivetrain is made up of the 165mm Race Face SixC crankset with 36T direct-mount narrow-wide single chainring (with matching green rubber bootie) and a KMC X11SL DLC Green chain.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

A carbon E*Thirteen chain guide keeps that beauty from getting off track.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

Pedals are the DMR Vault Chrome, which he says sell like hotcakes despite the almost $200-a-pair price.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

He chose Hope hubs because they offer a proper 11-speed freehub body on their mountain bike hubs, which let him run the road cassette with no spacing issues. They’re laced to DT Swiss FR570 rims with DT Swiss spokes.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

Hope Tech 3 V4 four-piston brakes bring this beast back down from speed.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

And keeping it stuck to the trail are Michelin Wild Rock’r tires, along with an incredibly plush suspension from DVO and a modified Cane Creek DB Coil.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

The fork is a rare brown DVO Emerald, which felt amazingly smooth and soft without wallowing through its travel in our little parking lot test riding straight into curbs.

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

merritt recycles bike shop banshee legend DH mountain bike with custom XTR-Saint Di2 hack

The Cane Creek Double Barrel coil shock gets a Ti-Springs upgrade.

Not shown are the Race Face Ride XC seatpost and Selle Italia Yutaak saddle. While he didn’t have a pile of receipts for us to inspect, the estimated retail value of the bike as shown probably around $9,000.

Looking for more recent Reader’s Rides? Check out Julian Da Silva’s XTR Di2 hack, too!

10 COMMENTS

  1. Google Maps shows a couple of places near G-town that have potential for hidden trails. All these Strava people are giving away the locations of the formerly secret trails, it’s only a matter of time. Best bet is to have them on private property behind a fence. Oh, and the bike is very nice too.

  2. Now that’s a nice ride.
    @dave that’s my thought too about the Di2. It hurt me already bad enough when I destroyed an XX1 rd a couple of months ago. And I actually don’t like the XTR Di2 lever feel so I’ll be sticking to mechanical goupsets still for some time.

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